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Bonds to join Griffey in wearing No. 42

Bonds to join Griffey in wearing No. 42

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants slugger Barry Bonds has agreed to shed his famous No. 25 for Jackie Robinson's even more famous No. 42 when Major League Baseball celebrates the 60th anniversary of Robinson shattering the color barrier on April 15.

Bonds follows Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr., who spearheaded the effort and petitioned Commissioner Bud Selig to wear Robinson's number, which was retired throughout baseball in 1997 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary.

"I'm proud to do this," Bonds told MLB.com prior to Wednesday night's Giants game against the Padres at AT&T Park. "It's Jackie, man. There's no person who was more important to the African-American cause in baseball history than Jackie Robinson. He paved the way for Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, everybody. You just can't underestimate the impact Jackie had on this game."

The Giants are in Pittsburgh that day, the city where Bonds played the first seven seasons of his 22-year career, while the focal point of the Robinson Day celebrations will be at Dodger Stadium, where the Padres play the Dodgers.

The Giants, as all of the remaining 29 Major League clubs, received a note from Selig on Wednesday, inviting each team to select an apt player to wear Robinson's number, said Peter Magowan, the Giants managing general partner, who had just approached Bonds at his locker asking him if he'd like to participate.

"This was a great idea by Ken Griffey and the Giants are happy to cooperate," Magowan said. "I asked Barry if he would be willing to do this and he said that he would. I fully expected him to and he did it. So on April 15 he will wear No. 42."

Bonds is just beginning his chase at Aaron's all-time MLB home run record this season. With 734, the seven-time National League MVP is 21 away from Aaron's 755. Bonds hit his 715th homer last May 28 and passed Babe Ruth to go into second behind Aaron. Mays, who is Bonds' godfather, is fourth on the all-time list with 660.

Among the top six members of the all-time list, four are African-Americans. Frank Robinson, at 586, is two behind Sammy Sosa, a native of the Dominican Republic.

Griffey, who has 563 homers -- 10th on the list -- was praised by Selig for his sentiments.

"This is a wonderful gesture on Ken's part and a fitting tribute to the great Jackie Robinson and one, I believe, that all clubs will eagerly endorse," Selig said in a release. "To make this happen, I gladly will temporarily suspend the official retirement of uniform No. 42 on that day.

"Jackie continues to be an inspiration to all of our players, and his impact will be felt for as long as our game is played. I thank Ken for finding another special way to mark Jackie Robinson Day."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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